OBJECTIVE To evaluate whether the nutritive quality of Tenebrio molitor larvae and Zophobas morio larvae, which are commonly cultured as live food sources, is influenced by 4 commercially available diets used as nutritional substrates; identify which diet best improved calcium content of larvae; and identify the feeding time interval that assured the highest calcium intake by larvae.
PROCEDURES Larvae were placed in control and diet treatment groups for 2-, 7-, and 10-day intervals. Treatment diets were as follows: wheat millings, avian hand feeding formula, organic avian mash diet, and a high-calcium cricket feed. Control groups received water only. After treatment, larvae were flash-frozen live with liquid nitrogen in preparation for complete proximate and mineral analyses. Analyses for the 2-day treatment group were performed in triplicate.
RESULTS The nutrient composition of the high-calcium cricket feed groups had significant changes in calcium content, phosphorus content, and metabolizable energy at the 2-day interval, compared with other treatment groups, for both mealworms and superworms. Calcium content and calcium-to-phosphorus ratios for larvae in the high-calcium cricket feed group were the highest among the diet treatments for all treatment intervals and for both larval species.
CONCLUSIONS AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE A 2-day interval with the high-calcium cricket feed achieved a larval nutrient composition sufficient to meet National Research Council dietary calcium recommendations for nonlactating rats. Mealworm calcium composition reached 2,420 g/1,000 kcal at 48 hours, and superworm calcium composition reached 2,070g/1,000 kcal at 48 hours. These findings may enable pet owners, veterinarians, insect breeders, and zoo curators to optimize nutritive content of larvae fed to insectivorous animals.